Image by Laura Retyi from Pixabay
I watched dumbfounded as 82- ear-old Wally Funk moved quickly leading her fellow soon-to-be astronauts up the 8 flights of stairs on the Blue Origin launch pad. As one 75-year-old who gets tired carrying my few bags of groceries up my one flight of stairs, I wondered how she did that.
The answer is obvious: one step at a time.
In an interview, Funk said she was informed early on that she would have to climb 8 sets of stairs to get to the capsule. So, she started climbing stairs whenever she could to try to get ready. And she got ready.
This post was triggered in part by an article in today’s Fast Company online magazine: The life-changing freedom of doing things poorly by Leah Kimberling. But I suspect we have all heard by now the sentiment “don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.”
That popular aphorism is attributed to Voltaire (read about it here). The Fast Company article describes the authors path of not waiting until she could meet her old, pre-Covid standards for physical and creative activities. Instead, she just decided to do what she could do now and eventually she would regain her old form.
And I’m sure you have seen the many “small wins” memes on the topic in your social media threads. I read one of the several good books on the idea – Atomic Habits by James Clear. There is an illustration of why those words were chosen:
But I am fond of this quote as I think it encapsulates the idea well: ““I’ve found that small wins, small projects, small differences often make huge differences.” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter
One thing I have learned along my path is that it is never to soon to share what you learn. I discovered this again when I noticed that some of the new, short YouTube videos I have posted as I learn useful, but often basic, mini skills as I dig into new topics – garner many views. https://www.youtube.com/c/TheStatsFilesDawnWrightPhD
I am one of those avid continuous learners. I love to expand my knowledge and skills even though I am at the point in life when some – far too many in my book – decide to just go with what they have learned in the past.
For example, though I have been teaching business analytics and statistics to undergrads and graduate students for a decade, I am learning data science – R and Python too. And I have set a goal to get Tableau Certified this year. I have found many helpful articles/posts on Medium, most by folks who are not that far ahead of me on the learning curve.
As I learn and discover things I want to remember and share, I will write about them on my blog and share many of them here. When I think a short mini-tutorial video would help, I will create and share those.
My point is that I am not going to wait until everything is “perfect” on a task until I act on it.
My daughter has begun to get “into” running. She now does a 5k each morning on the beach near her home. And each year she participates in the St Augustine Lighthouse charity climb challenge – 219 steps to the top of the 126 year old lighthouse. Next time, I intend to do it with her. But I have a long way to go to get into shape.
My plan is this: I will get out for exercise every morning even if it is only for a 5-minute walk around the condo complex. My goal is to get back running/jogging the 5k in 90 days. At the end of each walk/jog, I will climb the stairs to my condo. Initially just once each walk, but hopefully I will be able to add another flight and then another as I get my legs back in shape.
And I have set several other micro goals for things I have been intending to do:
- I will write at least one page per day in my blog even when I cannot finish my blog. I will write one paragraph each day when I cannot do one page.
- I will complete one lesson each day on a tech topic I’m interested in. When I cannot complete a lesson, I will complete something to do with the course.
- I will add one new video to my YouTube channel each week. When I cannot do that, I will at least write the script or make the initial cut video.
- I will get out of this house and meet new people. If I can’t get out due to Covid, I will call an old friend or send a text, or better yet, write a real letter.
The point is to take “baby steps” when necessary but to keep moving. It is important to not break the streak.
Obviously, this post is rough and not polished or even finished. But I have started and that is what is important. Just start even if the start is not perfect.
I have several good articles on the topic in my references at the bottom.
Allen, M. (2020, Sept 9). Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Poorly. Retrieved from Partners in Fire: https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/anything-worth-doing-is-worth-doing-poorly/
Good, A. (2018, Oct 30). Things That Are Worth Doing Are Worth Doing Poorly. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/10/30/things-that-are-worth-doing-are-worth-doing-poorly/?sh=779c03669314
Kemerling, L. (2021, Aug 8). The life-changing freedom of doing things poorly. Retrieved from Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/90663051/the-life-changing-freedom-of-doing-things-poorly
Ostman, C. (2012, June 20). Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Badly – Exchange perfectionaim for joy. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/second-wind/201206/anything-worth-doing-is-worth-doing-badly
Price, D. (2019, Nov 8). Getting Good at Doing Things Badly. Retrieved from Human Parts: https://humanparts.medium.com/getting-good-at-doing-things-badly-d691ec7cf17f